Microalloying is the technique of adding very small amounts of certain elements to steel in order to markedly improve the mechanical properties, most notably the strength and hardness. In 1977, the VanCraft series of high strength microalloyed cold finished bars was introduced. In 1978, this technique has been extended to include hot rolled bars for hot forging applications.
Hot forging of steel bars is the technique employed to produce many critical automotive components such as connecting rods, stabilizer bars, and many others. Typically, these parts require subsequent heat treatment to obtain the necessary properties. By microalloying with Cb or V, this heat treatment can often be eliminated since the desired properties are met in the as-forged part. This provides a significant cost savings and, of course, results in a reduction in energy consumption.
The metallurgical principles involved and the properties obtainable in hot rolled and cold finished bars will be described as well as selected applications.